At the height of its power the Roman Empire spanned over 2.2 million square miles of land. Its influence and control encircled the Mediterranean, covered all of Western Europe, and even half of Britain. At its peak, the Roman Empire was second only to the Persian Empire during the reign of Darius the great. Some would say that an applicable truism concerning the Roman Empire is that anything that reaches such heights, only has a further distance to fall.
There are many opinions as to why the Roman Empire fell, some believing it was due to over expansion, others to monetary troubles, others still to military problems, decadence, and there is even a number who believe the reason for Rome’s fall was Christianity.
Personally, I believe the fall of Rome as well as every empire that has come and gone serving as a cautionary tale for those willing to heed it, was hubris. Simply defined, hubris is arrogance, an overbearing pride or presumption that distorts men’s perception of reality. Some have even called hubris the pride that blinds, and I believe it is an apt definition.
Most often hubris is tethered in past glories or past conquests, and is unfounded in its arrogance or presumption. It refuses to see its present reality because it recalls a better time, the golden years when milk and honey flowed like rivers, when enemies bowed in trembling fear, and when the mere threat of a threat of force would make one’s enemies cower and bend to your will.
As with every empire in decline, those days were long past for Rome, and although it still attempted to impose itself, it still demanded respect, it still presumed that its enemies feared its might, they began to notice an ever growing boldness from the ranks of those who once feared them, and the once cowering eyes of those who would not dare look upon a Roman now stared back with a mixture of disdain, hatred and expectation of vengeance.
Until the day that Rome fell, there were still those who believed it would never fall. Hubris blinded them to their vulnerabilities, it blinded them to their weaknesses, it made them think themselves great in their own eyes, and despise anyone who would dare sound the alarm, and point out the obvious.
The reason I decided to venture into the land of hubris today is because it would seem that as a nation we have an aversion toward learning from others’ mistakes. Like stubborn children we want to repeat the experiences of those that came before us because we are unwilling to receive council or take advice.
As it was in the days of Rome, when the glory and the pomp were but a fleeting memory, today hubris is compelling us to beat our chests and tell anyone within earshot that we will weather this storm like we weathered the storms of the past because that’s what we’re made of, we’re built tough and we don’t back away from a challenge. Having studied the history of this nation, I can say without equivocation that we were built tough, and yes there was a time when we didn’t back away from a challenge. Sadly, that generation is all but gone, and no matter how we would like to make ourselves believe it, we are not that generation.
I believe the greatness of the generation that weathered two world wars and a great depression in this nation was rooted in the fact that they knew right from wrong, evil from just, darkness from light, and they would not compromise these things. Yes, there was a time in this nation when simplicity was looked upon as a virtue worthy of emulating rather than despising, when good conduct and moral character was demanded not only of church going folk, but every one of its citizens.
Only hubris can make us believe we have the integrity, backbone and courage of that generation, blinding us to the reality of what we have become as a nation and a generation. We are Rome, not at its peak but during its decent, wherein everything is relative, if it feels good do it, the more of everything the better, God is an absentee landlord, and we forge our own destinies.
‘Providence? What providence? That’s just something old fogies believed. We are smarter and more advanced than they were, we have twitter and face book now. Just look at all the archaic stuff they believed in like hard work, integrity, God, helping your neighbor. What sort of existence would that be?’
And so, we make science our god, because science requires no submission or obedience, and is morally neutral. We talk ourselves into believing we are happy as we pop fistfuls of Prozac and Zoloft into our tear streaked faces. We hoard and amass useless things that we can’t afford only to have them taken away by the repo man. We grow apathetic and indifferent toward anyone other than ourselves, and we underestimate the tenacity, determination, and hatred of our many enemies. Hubris has done this, and hubris will be our undoing.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.